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Mixed Martial Arts

Rene Catalan knows brother Robin will bounce back

Despite his brother Robin losing his last fight, Rene “D’Challenger” Catalan remains bullish of his brother’s future successes in the ring, calling the setback a boon for his brother’s development as a fighter.

“It will be a big help to Robin, because next time he’ll know what to do,” D’Challenger said in an interview from his gym, Catalan Fighting System in Makati City.

Robin “The Ilonggo” Catalan (8-4) lost to a more-experienced opponent in Hayato Suzuki (19-1) on Saturday, October 6 when the two strawweights competed at ONE: Kingdom of Heroes in Bangkok, Thailand. The Ilonggo was able to fend off most of the Japanese’s ground-and-pound in the first round using his half guard.

In the second round, however, Suzuki’s relentless top game proved too much, forcing Catalan to expose his back which Suzuki took for an eventual rear naked choke victory. Rene Catalan explained that their game plan of keeping the action on the feet did not work on account of Suzuki’s explosive takedowns.

Rene and Robin are multiple-time wushu sanda champions, as well as Russian sambo champions. Because of their background, the Catalan brothers favor stand-up battles over ground scrambles. Robin stepped in as a last-minute replacement for his brother, who injured his ankle owing to a training partner’s heel hook during the training camp.

“It was a good experience,” Catalan said, although he admitted that he needed to work on his grappling for his next bouts.

Rene said the team plans on patching the holes in their ground game by increasing their time on the mat and employing the aid of luta livre black belt Afonso “Cego” Celso dos Santos (1-5).

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Cego, a Philippines-based Brazilian who teaches the grappling art of luta livre in Makati, said he started working with the Catalans “around one or two months” before the event.

“Robin is really good. He learns fast,” Cego said.

“But he has too much to improve on in his ground game.”

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